That's me in the corner - that yellow bastard

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December 31st, 2005

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2005.1231.1346::That's me in the corner
Here follows a rant on my personal faith. Possibly rather emo.
I was reborn sometime while attending elementary school. I attended the Chinese Baptist Church of Miami every Sunday (aside: Many a person has commented on the slight irony of my being Baptist, a group which stereotypically would not accept the Chinese part of me), with an assortment of other Chinese youth close to my age. At some point, we were all expected to accept Jesus into our hearts. Our church pastor was a diminutive man of great humility, round-faced and smiling, he always projected an air of contented wisdom. Going to church was something of a social gathering, and I felt no objection to participating in the rites of that circle. Indeed, it was such a place of support and friendship, I rather wanted to be baptized, perhaps out of a pre-adolescent desire to fit in with the rest of the group.

It wouldn't be until much later where I would actually find the faith to go with my baptism. In the green mountains of North Carolina, our youth group would spend a week every summer on retreat, joining with other Baptist youth groups (whose many a member likely thought our presence incongruous at best, inappropriate at worst). There, amongst people I believed were peers, in the midst of an inundation of belief and penitence, I found my faith--I believed in God, that he had a plan for me, and that his plan did not include continued intimate relations with my girlfriend of the time. I would return to Miami intent on being a good Christian.

Sometime after my return to Miami, however, our pastor brought a new assistant pastor into the church. From Texas, this assistant pastor's sermons evoked the accusatory rantings that many regularly associate with the stereotype of a Bible-beater. I eventually grew tired of the judgmental preachings.

I don't think about my faith much anymore. At some point recently, however, I've found myself pulling away from it altogether. Perhaps I'm pulling back at the foolish national push to replace science with faith, two subjects which are pretty mutually exclusive in my mind. Or perhaps I'm rejecting that which I eschewed in my own personal experience--the tendency for modern people of faith to be accusatory and judgmental.

I'm finding it very difficult, however, to redefine myself. I recall I once told batnandu that I was Christian, to which he expressed some mild surprise. I haven't been to church in over seven years, and I recently defined myself as a lapsed Baptist. If I say, however, "I'm an atheist" or "I'm agnostic" it feels like the words are taking an integral part of me away from who I am.

And what of the afterlife? While I question my belief in the Christian God, do I still believe that S. is somewhere, watching the daughter who was born after he died? Or is that just a wish-fulfillment fantasy?

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